With two of their most important players, point guard Deonte Burton and wing Jerry Evans Jr., entering their senior season, the Nevada Wolf Pack have two key holes to fill as they look to improve their standing within the Mountain West.
On Sunday the program picked up its first two verbal commitments in the 2014 class and they’re important ones, as guard Eric Cooper Jr. and power forward Kaileb Rodriguez both have the talent needed to contribute upon their arrival in Reno.
The news was first reported by Josh Gershon of Scout.com.
Cooper’s name may be familiar to some college basketball fans, as he was originally a verbal commitment to attend Arizona. But in April Cooper made the decision to reopen his recruitment, telling the Long Beach (Calif.) Gazette that he “wanted to see what’s out there.” Cooper attended St. Anthony High School in southern California last year, averaging 22.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. He’ll be at IMG Academy this year, contrary to the Gazette’s report in the article linked above that he would attend Brewster Academy.
As for Rodriguez, the Colorado native spent last season at Cal before making the decision to transfer to Sheridan College in Wyoming. Rodriguez didn’t see any action for the Golden Bears, and with both Richard Solomon and David Kravish back for another season there may not have been much in the way of playing time available to Rodriguez.
At 6-9, 225, Rodriguez would give Nevada some additional size inside, and spending a year at a school where he’ll get playing time should help with his development. Nevada head coach David Carter added four newcomers from the junior college ranks to the front court this offseason, including juniors Chris Brown (6-11; West Texas College) and A.J. West (6-9; Monroe (N.Y.) College).
How well those newcomers come together will go a long way towards determining how successful the Wolf Pack can be in the Mountain West, because the perimeter rotation is in good shape. Burton is one of the best point guards in the country and Evans can defend multiple positions, and Nevada will have additional scoring punch due to the presence of sophomore Marqueze Coleman and UTEP transfer Michael Perez.
Last month the NCAA announced that due to rules violations found in their investigation of the SMU men’s basketball program, the team would be banned from postseason play in 2015-16 and head coach Larry Brown would be suspended for the first nine games of the 2015-16 season. With a team led by seniors Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy and just one player (Keith Frazier) being the subject of the investigation, it was assumed that SMU would at the very least appeal the postseason ban.
Friday, the school announced that while it will appeal some of the penalties handed down by the NCAA to the men’s basketball and men’s golf programs they will not appeal the postseason ban or Brown’s suspension.
“After careful consideration, however, we will not appeal the NCAA post-season ban on men’s basketball or partial season suspension of Head Men’s Basketball Coach Larry Brown,” SMU president R. Gerald Turner stated in the release. “Although we regret the severe impact on our student-athletes, the simple fact is that the NCAA penalty structure mandates at minimum a one-year post-season ban for the level of misconduct that occurred, in our case, when a former staff member completed an online high school course for a prospective student-athlete, committing academic misconduct.
“In addition, should we appeal this matter, the lengthy process and uncertainty during this period could harm many aspects of the program. Coach Brown and his staff also agree that it is in the best interests of the program to accept these sanctions and move forward.”
Among the penalties the school will appeal (with regards to the basketball program) are the “duration of scholarship losses” and how long the recruiting restrictions placed on the program will last, and the vacating of games Frazier played in during the 2013-14 season.
This a tough turn of events for players who had nothing to do with the violations, as they see their opportunity to return to the NCAA tournament taken away. As a result of the school’s decision, SMU’s season will end March 9 following their regular season finale against Cincinnati.
Kevin Marfo committed to George Washington on Friday evening, announcing his decision on Twitter.
“I am grateful and appreciative to all the schools that recruited me. But I will be spending the next four years at George Washington University,” he tweeted.
This caps a successful week for Mike Lonergan on the recruiting trail. On Tuesday, GW landed a commitment from Darnell Rogers, a 5-foot-3 point guard. He is the son of former GW guard Shawnta Rogers, the 1999 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. GW ends the week by adding a tenacious rebounder to a front court that graduates top rebounder Kevin Larsen after this season. Rogers and Marfo join power forward Collin Smith in the Class of 2016. Seton Hall transfer Jaren Sina will also be eligible in 2016-17.
He cut his list to 10 in August with Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Minnesota, Boston College, UMass, Saint Joseph’s, DePaul, Rhode Island and Providence all making the cut along wit the Colonials. He later trimmed the list to five finalists: BC, Providence, DePaul, GW and Rhode Island.
The Worcester Academy (Mass.) forward played for BABC this summer in the Nike EYBL, averaging 11.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-8 Marfo is listed as the No. 148 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.